PRHS raises over $8,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation during Homecoming
—The week of homecoming at Paso Robles High School is a festive affair, filled with pep and anticipation for the big game. This year, an aura of generosity and altruism accompanied the event. For the first time in history, PRHS decided to sponsor a charity, the chosen nonprofit being the Make a Wish Foundation, with homecoming. Other schools have had similar ideas, and ASB president and senior Josh Dewhurst was inspired by them.
“He came to us and said that this is something he’d like to do, and he had done some research already,” said leadership advisor and chemistry teacher Anthony Overton.
The idea was quickly welcomed by the Leadership Class, and students were touched by the thought of coming together to support a worthy cause. “We felt that everyone could connect with the idea of helping grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, and would rally behind the concept to help bring joy into a child’s life,” said Dewhurst, who is a firm advocate for the concept of service before self.
The Make a Wish Foundation grants wishes to children diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Empathy connected students and staff to the cause, and this connection compelled Bearcats to donate amounts varying from $1 to $20 in order to help a kid in need.
Student Shon Clayton was diagnosed with a terminal form of bronchitis. Make-A-Wish granted him a wish of traveling to Disneyworld in Orlando with his family in March 2014.
Many were unaware of a stronger bond they shared. This bond is student Shon Clayton, who became a part of Make a Wish two years ago, when he was diagnosed with a terminal form of bronchitis. As he faced what he thought were his last months, the foundation reached out to him and gave him an opportunity to forget the pain, fear, and agony he was feeling. He was given a wish, and this became his escape to a place of happiness and peace in the face of fear.
In March of 2014, he went to Disneyworld for a week with his family. He went to Orlando thinking he would not make it, but this fear was forgotten during his seemingly endless trip.
“It seemed like we were there for a month,” Clayton recalled. Because of what the Make a Wish Foundation did for him, he considers this week as the best week of his life.
Clayton shared his story with the school at the homecoming assembly on Oct. 7, 2016, bringing the crowd to tears and drawing generosity from the wallets of nearly every student. Over $1,600 in change was raised in the assembly alone, contributing to the final amount of $8,500 throughout the week.
The money poured in as charitable students, staff, and members of the community purchased shirts that read “Make a Wish: Homecoming 2016” and placed money inside collection boxes in their English classes and at the gym during a “Miracle Minute.” Teary-eyed students felt a surge of generosity after Clayton’s speech, and each class raised over $400, with the sophomore class in the lead at $513.
One of the visibly moved students at the assembly was Leadership student and junior Teagan Ehlers, stationed at the senior section of the gym, who got to experience the results of Leadership’s hard work and Clayton’s inspiring speech.
“I was holding a box and this girl, she opened up her wallet and kept dumping money and the rest of her change into the box,” Ehlers said. Moments of generosity such as this and seeing the students connect through the cause led her to the conclusion that this must be the best homecoming yet. After seeing everything behind the scenes, the results that came from it, and the spread of charity from the school to the community, she said, “having everyone work together and just seeing everyone be able to put something that big together for [everyone] who lives here is just amazing.”
Overton came to a similar verdict, as he exclaimed “I was really encouraged by our student body’s willingness to give back to something that was bigger than them,” and suggested: “Volunteering, getting out in your community, and doing stuff for the school are all other great ways to give back.”
This year’s homecoming was agreeably one of the most grand and large scale homecomings yet. It inspired Bearcats to focus on giving back and brought them to explore a selfless lifestyle. The results reflected this selflessness, with a total of $8,500 raised that exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone involved.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better result,” said Dewhurst, “The spirit, enthusiasm, selflessness, and love our Bearcats have is truly amazing.”